Reposted 09-26-2011, Edited for content
How much of your child's behavior is directly related to your expectations of them? A lot, I think. Granted, my oldest is only eight - I could be wrong. But it seems to me that we excuse a lot of sin by calling it "age appropriate behavior."
Terrible Twos - Parenting magazines and books make a big deal about the terrible twos. Children at this age are certainly very independent. But, should we expect them to be terrible? If you plan for the worst, you will probably get what you expect from your child.
Specific Example: Most people would say that a two or three year old cannot sit through a church service. Some parents would go so far as to say it is like a punishment for a young child to sit still through a service. Or that it simply can't be done. I want to challenge that mentality. You can train your two year old to do hard things, like sit quietly through a service (without toys and crayons, at that). It takes hard work (and determination) on the part of the parents, but it can be done.
Teenagers - Everyone knows that all teenagers rebel, right? Wrong. We know people in real life whose children have not rebelled, you might know of some too. You might even be a young person who went through those years without rebelling. I firmly believe that if you bring up your child from infancy expecting them to rebel, then you are probably raising them in such a way that they will rebel. Does that make sense? If you raise your teen with low expectations and low standards, they will likely rise to your low expectations of them.
I am NOT advocating that we push our kids to perfection that will drive them mad! I am just saying that we have been lied to by pop psychiatry and sitcoms. Our kids do not necessarily have to rebel. Some will. Some won't. It has a lot to do with how you raise them. It has a lot to do with your expectations.
Specific Example: "Joe, your curfew is eleven...though I don't know why I bother to give you a curfew at all, since you will stay out late anyway." This would be the perfect example of giving your child license to disobey.
I am no expert. My kids are not perfect. I am far from perfect. This is just a theory I am putting together from what I see around me.
I am still trying to expect the best from my children. But some times things do not go as you expect. Paul is always reminding me that the Bible says that "As a man thinks, so he is." But, we just don't have control of everything! I have a young lady in my home whose body chemistry and hormones are going crazy at an early age (began at 9). People are always talking about what a horrible teenager she will be. I am concerned that if she keeps hearing these ideas that she might lower to their standards. BUT, Paul and I are daily praying that we will be able to train her to control her mind and body even when she is confused, moody, irritable, etc. We choose to expect the best. We will encourage her as we can. God will do the rest.